Hotel bomb kills 12 people in Pakistan
QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A bomb attached to a timer ripped through a two-story hotel in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province Sunday, reducing the building to rubble and killing 12 people, police said.
The attack in the town of Dera Allah Yar also wounded 23 people, said Jawed Iqbal Gharshin, the police chief in surrounding Jafferabad district. Police have taken two people into custody who had tea in the hotel's restaurant and left just before the bomb went off, he said.
Dera Allah Yar is some 220 miles (350 kilometers) east of the provincial capital of Quetta.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. But Baluchistan has experienced a decades-long insurgency by nationalists who want a greater share of the region's natural resources. The province, next to Afghanistan, is also believed to be home to many Taliban militants.
Elsewhere in Baluchistan, two gunmen riding a motorcycle killed a local journalist in the city of Khuzdar, located some 170 miles (270 kilometers) from Quetta, said area police chief Qadir Shaikh. Munir Shakir was walking to his office in the main bazaar when he was attacked, he said.
Also Sunday, suspected militants fired rockets at a paramilitary base in northwestern Pakistan during an independence day ceremony, killing three soldiers and wounding 23 others, intelligence officials said.
Soldiers had just finished raising the Pakistani flag and were gathering for speeches when the rockets hit the base in Miran Shah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal area, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
North Waziristan is the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal region along the Afghan border. The militants often launch attacks against foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The U.S. has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan launch an offensive against the militants in North Waziristan, but the government has refused, saying its forces are stretched too thin by operations in other parts of the tribal area.
Many analysts believe Pakistan is reluctant to target Afghan Taliban militants with whom it has historic ties and who could be useful allies in Afghanistan after foreign troops withdraw.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the area is filled with Pakistani Taliban militants who have declared war against the state. In contrast, the Afghan Taliban have concentrated on fighting in Afghanistan.
Elsewhere in the northwest, a land mine killed two paramilitary soldiers and wounded five others on patrol in the Orakzai tribal area, said Naeem Khan, a local government official.
Associated Press writers Rasool Dawar in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan, and Hussain Afzal in Parachinar, Pakistan, contributed to this report.